Wholesale and Retail Trade

 

 

https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Subway-Surveillance.aspxSubway SurveillanceGP0|#cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8;L0|#0cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8|Physical Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a43444652017-11-01T04:00:00Zhttps://adminsm.asisonline.org/pages/holly-gilbert-stowell.aspx, Holly Gilbert Stowell<p>​For small business profitability, it’s the little things that make a difference, and keeping tabs on employees can help prevent shrinkage. According to Subway franchise owner Kim Jordan, protecting her assets means that every bag of chips and loaf of bread must be accounted for. “The only way we can make money as a franchise is by keeping our labor expenses down…and by keeping our food costs down,” says Jordan, who owns six of the sandwich franchise stores in Alabama. </p><p>Because employees often work solo shifts in the store, Jordan has experienced food theft, which drives up business costs.  </p><p>“The greatest loss to my business is employee theft, whether it may be someone walking out the door with a case full of steak, stealing products, or giving away products,” she explains. </p><p>While Jordan knew that video surveillance would help, the infrastructure for individual security systems at each store would have been burdensome from a financial and management perspective, she says. That’s when she turned to Hokes Bluff, Alabama-based security integrator Lee Investment Consultants, LLC, to determine the best solution for preventing the theft and robbery plaguing the restaurant. <img src="/ASIS%20SM%20Callout%20Images/1117%20Case%20Study%20Stats%20Box.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:430px;height:244px;" /></p><p>After evaluating a number of manufacturers, the decision was made to choose two camera models and a video management system from Hanwha Techwin America. With this system, the end user can view live video remotely or from individual store locations, and easily review recorded footage. </p><p>The install at the first store location was completed in May 2015, and over the next year and a half the other stores were outfitted. The last installation, at the store located inside a Walmart, was completed in November 2016. </p><p>To keep infrastructure costs down, the integrator provides long-term video storage at its hosting facility. It keeps footage for 30 days for the Subway stores before overwriting it. </p><p>Given the limited bandwidth Subway restaurants use mainly for their point of sale (POS) systems, local SD recording has been a major benefit of the system. For redundancy purposes, recording is performed right on the device using an SD card, and the video is uploaded overnight to the storage servers. </p><p>Most store locations have two cameras–one pointed at the sandwich line and register, and another pointed at the back portion of the store where the coolers are. One of the larger stores has three cameras, and the Walmart location only has one camera at the entrance. </p><p>“We’ve had problems where employees are voiding out transactions at the register,” Jordan says. “Once employees get clever with the computer system, they might void out an order they just transacted…and stuff that money in their pocket.” </p><p>Now the problem with employee theft at the register has gone down, Jordan says, because they can view the cameras which are pointed at the POS terminals. “We can go back and view the video at the time that void was made, so we can see if the transaction is legitimate or not.”</p><p>Many of her individual store managers have access to the camera feeds, and Jordan entrusts them with reporting any cases of theft or unwanted employee behavior.</p><p>For example, one of her managers performed an inventory check and realized several bags of sandwich sauce were missing. Suspecting one employee in particular as the culprit, that manager decided to watch a live video feed the next time that employee was working. </p><p>“She just sat there...and actually watched the employee sneaking out the front door with the sauces,” Jordan says. The employee was immediately fired. “If someone’s going to steal a bag of sweet onion teriyaki sauce, they’re not trustworthy.” </p><p>The cameras have also led to the arrest of employees in more serious incidents. “A few months ago a customer had come in and had left her wallet behind, so my manager put it in a filing cabinet and told an employee that was coming in it was there,” she explains. “And when the lady came to pick up her wallet, she had a credit card and cash that was missing.” </p><p>Video revealed that the employee who knew where the wallet was had stolen a credit card, and used it to buy a bag of chips in the store. The security integrator helped Jordan upload the footage onto a thumb drive to take to the police. “We got a warrant, and they arrested her for using that credit card,” Jordan tells Security Management. “We could not have proved it if it weren’t for the cameras.” </p><p>Even more recently, Jordan noticed about $5,000 was missing from the franchises’ bank deposits that a manager was supposed to be putting in the bank. “Our cameras provided the evidence that she did get the deposits out of the safe and walked out of the store with them,” Jordan says. The manager was arrested and charged with felony embezzlement.</p><p>“I never give someone a second chance to steal,” Jordan says. “To me if they steal a bag of chips or give a sandwich to a friend, then they’ll take home five sandwiches for themselves when they get the chance.” </p><p>The return on investment from a business perspective has also been huge, Jordan notes. “At one location, our food cost for months had been above 40 percent,” she notes. “After we got those cameras, within a week our food cost came down within the margin we needed.” </p><p>The cameras have also led to a greater sense of security among her workers. “I have had employees say they feel safer because of the cameras,” she notes. “Especially with some younger employees, 16 or 17 years old, it’s been a comfort to their parents having the cameras when their child is closing alone.”</p><p><em>For more information: Tom Cook, tom.cook@hanwha.com, www.hanwhasecurity.com, 201.325.2623 ​</em></p>

Wholesale and Retail Trade

 

 

https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Subway-Surveillance.aspx2017-11-01T04:00:00ZSubway Surveillance
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/The-Most-Resilient-Countries-in-the-World.aspx2017-05-11T04:00:00ZThe Most Resilient Countries in the World
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Redefining-Loss.aspx2017-04-01T04:00:00ZRedefining Loss
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Surveillance-and-Stereotypes.aspx2017-04-01T04:00:00ZSurveillance and Stereotypes
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Crime-of-Opportunity.aspx2016-12-01T05:00:00ZCrime of Opportunity
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Book-Review---Supply-Chain-Risk.aspx2016-10-01T04:00:00ZBook Review: Supply Chain Risk
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Six-Food-Defense-Changes.aspx2016-06-01T04:00:00ZSix Food Defense Changes
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Safety-at-Sea.aspx2015-07-20T04:00:00ZSafety at Sea
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Surveillance-for-Security-and-Beyond.aspx2015-06-15T04:00:00ZSurveillance for Security and Beyond
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Strategic-Shrink-Reduction.aspx2015-02-01T05:00:00ZStrategic Shrink Reduction
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Chain-Reaction.aspx2015-01-01T05:00:00ZChain Reaction
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Retail-Theft-Inc.aspx2014-10-01T04:00:00ZRetail Theft, Inc.
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/the-intelligence-triangle.aspx2014-09-01T04:00:00ZThe Intelligence Triangle
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/target-breach-offers-protection-lessons-0013247.aspx2014-04-01T04:00:00ZTarget Breach Offers Protection Lessons
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/fighting-counterfeiters-during-holiday-season-0013014.aspx2013-12-20T05:00:00ZFighting Counterfeiters During the Holiday Season
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Shutting-Down-Retail-Theft.aspx2013-11-01T04:00:00ZShutting Down Retail Theft
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/loss-prevention-0012628.aspx2013-08-01T04:00:00ZGlobal Retail Crime and Loss Prevention Trends
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/asis-2012-seminar-showcase-0011133.aspx2012-12-03T05:00:00ZASIS 2012 Seminar Showcase
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/A-Wrinkle-in-Time.aspx2012-08-01T04:00:00ZA Wrinkle in Time
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/supply-chain-security-009867.aspx2012-06-01T04:00:00ZSupply Chain Security

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https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/In-Search-of-Security-Metrics.aspxIn Search of Security Metrics<p>At a major insurance company headquartered in the Midwestern United States, the assistant vice president for corporate security has used an environmental risk metric for the past 12 years to help the company decide where to place office facilities around the country. The company owns or leases hundreds of facilities across the United States. Corporate security regularly collects a suite of data, assigns weights to various factors, and develops a numeric score that places each facility into a low, medium, or high category of risk. For each risk category, written policy specifies a cluster of security measures that should be in place at the site. Exceptions can be granted, but the systematic approach results in uniformity and in efficiency in decision-making and security systems contracting. Most importantly, the metrics-based approach helps senior management understand the level of risk in site selection and make informed decisions on risk management. In addition, over time, the metrics have steered the corporation toward having a smaller percentage of its locations in high-risk sites.</p><p>This example illustrates how security professionals can use metrics to determine what works, measure the value of security operations, and demonstrate security's alignment with its organization's objectives. To help security managers use metrics more effectively, the ASIS Foundation funded research to create tools for discovering, developing, assessing, improving, and presenting security metrics. By using the tools, security professionals may be better positioned to manage their operations, measure their effectiveness, and communicate with senior management. </p><p>Metrics are measurements or other objective indicators collected over time to guide decision-making. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with measurements, analytics, and performance measures. With metrics, security managers can speak to senior leaders in familiar business language, offering measurable results that correlate with investment. Without compelling metrics, security managers and their budgets rely largely on the intuition of company leadership. </p><p>Two years ago, the ASIS Foundation implemented a new structure for assessing and overseeing security research. The first test of that structure was a proposal for research on security metrics, says Linda F. Florence, Ph.D, CPP, president, ASIS Foundation Board of Trustees. "The ASIS International Defense and Intelligence Council had a special interest in the topic, having made several presentations on metrics at the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits. The council formed a vision of what the security field needed, found researchers who could perform the work, and helped the researchers develop a proposal for ASIS Foundation funding."</p><p>The Foundation Research Council approved the proposal, and the Foundation sought and received funding from the ASIS Board of Directors. The result was the ASIS Foundation Metrics Research Project. The Foundation awarded a grant to Global Skills X-Change (GSX) and Ohlhausen Research to undertake the project. GSX specializes in applying validation, measurement, and standards development techniques to produce business tools. Ohlhausen Research, Inc., conducts research in security, criminal justice, and technology.</p><h4>Depth Perception<br><br></h4><p>The project's research team consisted of the author as principal investigator; subject matter expert and former Director of Information Protection for the U.S. Air Force Daniel McGarvey; Senior Analyst Megan Poore; and Technical Advisor Lance Anderson, Ph.D.</p><p>Throughout the research, which be­gan in 2013, the ASIS Defense and Intelligence Council ensured that the security practitioner's point of view was represented by serving on the project's advisory board and expert panel.</p><p>The researchers gained insights into security metrics through a systematic review of the literature, an online sur­vey of ASIS members, and lengthy fol­low- up interviews by phone. In addition, the research team was guided by an advisory board and an expert panel composed of security professionals with experience in the use of metrics. The project was completed in the spring of 2014.</p><p>The research found many books, articles, and reports discussing reasons to use metrics, characteristics of existing metrics, and methods for communicating metrics. Among the most valuable resources on security metrics were George Campbell's <em>Measures and Metrics in Corporate Security: Communicating Business Value</em> and Mary Lynn Garcia's <em>The Design and Evaluation of Physical Protection Systems</em>, as well as numerous articles in both <em>Harvard Business Review</em> and <em>MIT Sloan Management Review</em>—the latter on business metrics generally.</p><p>This noted, most sources that examine security metrics operate at a conceptual level only. The literature has few specific strategies for developing or evaluating security metrics. Likewise, descriptions of empirically sound security metrics with statistical justification and evidence are scarce. </p><p>To uncover specific uses of security metrics and to gain an understanding of the different ways in which security professionals may be using metrics, the research team invited more than 3,000 ASIS members to participate in an online survey. The survey's 20 questions asked about metrics collection, comparison to external benchmarks, return on investment, sharing and presentation of metrics, and alignment with organizational risks and objectives. The survey also examined the particulars of metrics usage among respondents.</p><p>The 297 respondents demonstrated a high degree of interest in metrics. Of the respondents who said they are not using security metrics, 78 percent said they would use metrics if they knew more about how to create and use them effectively. More than half of all respondents asked for more information from ASIS regarding metrics.</p><p>Respondents provided the research team with a detailed view of the many ways that security professionals are using metrics today, including focusing on topics, reporting data, sharing with the C-suite, aligning with organizational risk, and using a dashboard tool.</p><p><strong>Metrics topics.</strong> Respondents were asked which aspects of the security program they measure. The top five categories were security incidents, criminal incidents and investigations, cost against budget, security training and education, and guarding performance, which includes turnover and inspections. </p><p><strong>Reporting.</strong> Eighty percent of respondents who use metrics provide their metric findings to persons outside the security department. Recipi­ents of the information include senior management (79 percent of those who share metrics outside the security department), managers of other departments (59 percent), supervisors (51 percent), and people who report to the security department (47 percent). Those who share metrics provide the information quarterly (43 percent), monthly (40 percent), or annually (17 percent).</p><p><strong>Sharing.</strong> Respondents who share metrics with C-suite personnel were asked which elements they share. The top choices were security incidents (80 percent), cost against budget (62 percent), criminal incidents and investigations (57 percent), regulatory compliance (44 percent), and risk analysis process (40 percent).</p><p><strong>Alignment.</strong> Eighty percent of respondents who use metrics said that their metrics are tied to, aligned with, or part of the larger organizational risk process or organiza­tional objectives. For example, some metrics protect the company's most important product line; other metrics may support business continuity, compliance, risk management, or client satisfaction. One respondent explained that top management sets broad goals and writes plans while se­cu­rity metrics demonstrate how effective those plans are.</p><p><strong>Dashboard tool.</strong> Forty-four percent of respondents who use metrics perform their data collection, review, or sharing via a security management dashboard tool.</p><p>This research makes it possible to clearly define security's role and contribution to the organization at the tactical, organizational, and strategic levels. The report provides a working metrics tool that can help practitioners use metrics in the most effective manner. </p><h4>In the Tool Belt<br><br></h4><p>GSX and Ohlhausen Research studied the current uses of security metrics and created several resources for practition­ers. The Security Metrics Evaluation Tool (Security MET) helps security pro­fessionals develop, evaluate, and improve security metrics. A library of metric descriptions, each evaluated according to the Security MET criteria, provides valuable resources. Guidelines for using metrics can help security professionals inform and persuade senior management.</p><p>The tools, especially the Security MET, are designed to help security managers assess and refine metrics that they are using or considering, based on an intimate knowledge of conditions at their organization, in a manner guided by scientific assessment methods. </p><p><strong>Security MET.</strong> The Security MET is meant to aid and empower the security manager, not to dictate any particular security decision. By providing a standard for scientific measurement, it offers guidance for improving the inputs that go into the security professional's own decision-making process.</p><p>The Security MET is a written instrument that security managers can use to assess the quality of specific security metrics. Users can determine whether an existing or proposed metric possesses scientific validity, organizational rele­vance (such as clear alignment with corporate risks or goals), return on investment, and practicality.</p><p>The tool was developed through a comprehensive, iterative process that involved synthesizing scientific literature, reviewing security industry standards, and obtaining input from metrics experts on the project's advisory board and expert panel. Many of the criteria come from the field of psychometrics, which is concerned with the measurement of mental traits, abilities, and processes. The psychometric literature addresses the measurement of complex human behaviors, including sources of error inherent in social and organizational situations. In addition, through its connection with legal guidelines and case law, psychometric theory provides ways to address complicated legal issues related to fairness and human error.</p><p>The tool presents nine criteria for evaluating a security metric. The criteria fall into three groups: technical, operational, and strategic.</p><p><em>Technical.</em> The technical criteria include reliability, validity, and generaliz­ability. Reliability means the degree to which the metric yields consistent scores that are unaffected by sources of measurement error. Validity refers to the degree to which evidence based on theory or quantitative research supports drawing conclusions from the metric. Generalizability means the degree to which conclusions drawn from the metric are consistent and applicable across different settings, organizations, timeframes, or circumstances.</p><p><em>Operational.</em> Operational criteria include the monetary and nonmonetary costs associated with metric development and administration, as well as timeliness and the extent to which metric data can be manipulated, coached, guessed, or faked by staff.</p><p><em>Strategic.</em> Strategic criteria include return on investment, organizational relevance, and communication. Return on investment is the extent to which a metric can be used to demonstrate cost savings or loss prevention in relation to relevant security spending. Organizational relevance is the extent to which the metric is linked to organizational risk management or a strategic mission, objective, goal, asset, threat, or vulnerability relevant to the organization—in other words, linked to the factors that matter the most to senior management. Communication refers to the extent to which the metric, metric results, and metric value can be communicated easily, succinctly, and quickly to key stakeholders, especially senior management.</p><p>A score sheet is presented at the end of the Security MET. The instrument is easy to score and imposes little to no time burden on staff. Lower scores on particular criteria show where a metric has room for improvement. </p><p>Here's an example of how the Security MET can be used to evaluate a real-life metric. At a major financial services firm, employees were being robbed of their mobile phones on the sidewalks all around the office as they came to work, when they went outside for lunch, or when they left to go home. The firm identified hot spots and times for phone theft and applied extra security measures. After reaching a maximum of 40 thefts in a two-month period, the number soon declined to zero.</p><p>Evaluating the metric with the Security MET provides some valuable insights. The metric—the number of mobile phone thefts—is highly reliable, as it is based on incident reports from employee victims, police reports, and video surveillance. Its validity appears to be confirmed by the outcome—that problem was eliminated. Collecting the data has little marginal cost, as the company already tracks and trends security incidents. Its organizational relevance is high, as it aligns with the firm's goal of attracting workers to the central business district. As for communication, it is a straightforward metric that is easy to explain. In terms of return on investment, it is hard to quantify the value of keeping employees safe and continuing to attract new employees.</p><p>Thus, while the metric appears to present a reasonable return on investment, the Security MET helps the user see that developing clear proof of ROI would be one way to strengthen this particular metric. The addition of a short survey asking employees if they feel more se­cure and would recommend the company to others would provide validation for both the solution and the metric.</p><p><strong>Metrics library.</strong> The researchers de­veloped 16 summaries of metrics currently in use in the security field. The summaries were developed primarily through telephone interviews with on­line survey respondents. The summaries may serve as examples for security pro­fessionals who are considering ways to use metrics. (See box on page 58 for a complete list of topics.)</p><p>The library presents a three- to four-page summary of each metric. In addition, each metric is evaluated by several metrics experts, using the Security MET. The metrics library is presented in the full project report.</p><p>These real-world metrics come from a variety of industries including defense/aerospace, energy/oil, finance, government, insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, real estate management, retail, security services, shipping/logistics, and telecommunications.</p><p>Some of the metrics are more sophisticated and detailed than others, providing a range of examples for potential users to consider. The metrics are not presented as models of perfection. Rather, they are authentic examples that security professionals can follow, refine, or otherwise adapt when developing their own metrics.</p><p><strong>Guidelines.</strong> A key task in this research was to develop guidelines for effectively using security metrics to persuade senior management. What would make those presentations more compelling? Several recommendations emerged.</p><p>Present metrics that are aligned with the organization's objectives or risks or that measure the specific issues in which management is most interested. One of the most important measures is return on investment (ROI).</p><p>Present metrics that meet measurement standards. A metric may be more persuasive to senior management if it has been properly designed from a scientific point of view and has been evaluated against a testing tool, such as the Security MET, or established measurement and statistical criteria.</p><p>Tell a story. If the metric is prevention-focused, a security professional can make the metric compelling by naming the business resources threatened, stat­ing the value of those resources, and describing the consequences if the event occurs. Another part of a compelling story is the unfolding of events over time. Metrics can show progress toward a specific strategic goal. </p><p>Use graphics and keep presentations short. Senior managers may be interested in only a few key measures. While security professionals may choose to monitor many metrics via a dashboard interface, they should create a simpler dashboard for senior management. Some security professionals said they limit their presentations to five minutes.</p><p>Present metric data regularly. As data ages it becomes more historical, less actionable, and thus potentially less valuable. The research does not suggest an optimal interval for sharing security metrics with senior management, but the survey shows that 83 percent of security professionals who share metrics outside the department do so at least quarterly. </p><p>Future steps for helping security professionals improve their use of metrics include a webinar sponsored by the ASIS Defense and Intelligence Council and the further development of the metrics library. Other ideas under consideration include metrics training for security practitioners, the development of a tool for creating a metric from scratch and implementing it in an organization, and the creation of a library of audited— not merely self-reported—metrics. </p><p>The best security practice is evi­dence-based; without research, practitioners must rely on anecdotal information to make decisions. The ASIS Foundation continues to seek ideas for research projects that would increase security knowledge and help security professionals perform their work more effectively. </p><p>The complete project report, <em>Persuading Senior Management with Effective, Evaluated Security Metrics</em>, is available as a free download. The 196-page report contains the full text of the Security MET, the library of metric summaries (with evaluations), guidelines for presenting metrics to senior management, the project's literature review, and detailed results of the online survey.</p><p>Florence says, "We are proud to brand this quality research with the ASIS Foundation logo and share the findings with our members and the security profession as a whole. This research will help propel security from an industry to a profession, where we belong."  <br></p><p>Peter E. Ohlhausen is president of Ohlhausen Research, Inc., and served as principal investigator for the ASIS Foundation Metrics Research Project. He is a member of ASIS.</p>GP0|#28ae3eb9-d865-484b-ac9f-3dfacb4ce997;L0|#028ae3eb9-d865-484b-ac9f-3dfacb4ce997|Strategic Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465
https://sm.asisonline.org/migration/Pages/retail-loss-prevention-officer-fundamental-elements-retail-security-and-safety.aspxThe Retail Loss Prevention Officer: The Fundamental Elements of Retail Security and Safety<p>The Retail Loss Prevention Officer: The Fundamental Elements of Retail Security and Safety. By Anthony D. Manley; published by Pearson Prentice Hall, <a href="http://www.prenhall.com/">www.prenhall.com</a> (Web); 356 pages; $44. </p><p>Perhaps it is a reflection of our times that this comprehensive account of the responsibilities of loss prevention officers begins not with an overview of those duties, but rather of the legal liability that officers may encounter. In that same vein, the author includes a note in the text that disclaims all personal liability "from the use or misuse of any of the information, techniques, or applications presented or implied in this book." Fortunately, the author isn't skittish in his advice, and what follows is a thorough treatment of issues.</p><p>The heart of the book details the fundamental elements of a retail loss prevention program. It considers internal and external investigations, audits, and special issues such as dealing with criminal justice agencies.</p><p>In the investigation sections, the author lays out the mechanics of an investigation and the possible legal pitfalls. He fine-tunes his earlier discussion of criminal law and civil liability to address specific applications. In addition to dealing with shoplifters, investigations also cover accident and fraud investigations, as well as internal investigations of dishonest employees. The discussion contains useful checklists that can be used as benchmarks, such as a list of "areas of concern for the placement of CCTV cameras."</p><p>Retail security officers also receive helpful information on physical security, safes, contractual services such as honesty shoppers, and media handling. Other informative material covers schemes and scams prevalent in retail and check and credit card fraud, the details of which can be used to create training presentations for cashiers and retail managers.</p><p>Sections on emergencies and report writing close out this thorough book. The emergency chapter addresses everything from bomb threats and bloodborne pathogens to labor union unrest and hazard communication. Comprehensive but not overwhelming, this book hits the mark for loss prevention officers, supervisors, and managers.</p><hr size="2" width="100%" /><p><em>Reviewer: George J. Okaty, CPP, is a former security manager for a retail chain. He is currently the director of protective services for the Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. He has taught for several years as an adjunct instructor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and he is a member of ASIS International.</em></p>GP0|#91bd5d60-260d-42ec-a815-5fd358f1796d;L0|#091bd5d60-260d-42ec-a815-5fd358f1796d|Cybersecurity;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Teaming-Up-on-Loss-Prevention.aspxTeaming Up on Loss Prevention<p>​</p><p>THE GREAT RECESSION HAS HIT MERCHANTS HARD. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than a million retail positions have been lost and a significant portion of those jobs are not expected to return. With retailers suffering staff reductions at both stores and corporate headquarters, one of the biggest challenges for retail loss prevention (LP) departments is halting operational breakdowns that lead to loss. One way of doing so is through the creation and deployment of special in-store loss prevention/asset protection teams.</p><p>In an ideal retail environment, after inventory is acquired for sale and displayed, it is all sold and none of it is returned. That, of course, is not the reality. Out of any given inventory, some items are returned, others lost, damaged, or stolen. That’s known as “shrink,” and it is on the rise. According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer, an annual study underwritten by an independent grant from Checkpoint Systems, the global shrink rate increased by 6.6 percent when comparing 2010 to 2011.</p><p>One factor in the increasing percentage of shrink is the loss of experienced personnel who are knowledgeable about operations and procedures that can prevent problems that result in shrinkage. These workers are the front lines of a loss prevention/asset protection program. At the store level, for example, operational breakdowns from lack of experienced personnel take place across the spectrum of operations, leading to receiving errors, incorrect pricing of new goods or of merchandise slated for markdown, improper storage that results in damage to goods, unrotated perishable or expired items, and cash-handling laxities.</p><p>At the corporate level, similar personnel losses can lead to an absence of LP programs or the implementation of poorly designed and inadequate programs. The results can be catastrophic, causing wasted labor as well as unrecoverable losses that can spell the end of a business altogether.</p><p>The latter is not a baseless doomsday warning: in my capacity as the president and CEO of a retail LP consultancy, after having served for many years in retail LP with major multinational companies, I have seen retailers suffer these consequences, including two companies with more than 845 locations in 48 U.S. states.</p><p>Team LP<br>Companies may not be able to avoid personnel cutbacks or turnover, but they can mitigate the damage to the loss prevention program. One tested way to prevent the breakdown of LP processes after the loss of key personnel is to set up teams dedicated and trained to focus on LP and safety to help ensure that the locations are doing everything they can to limit loss from shrink and risk management exposures.</p><p>Like any good retail strategy, the LP team must have executive buy-in if it is to succeed. Unless this upper-level support is clearly communicated, and time budgeted, store managers will remain unconvinced that they should devote time and other resources to the team’s activities.</p><p>If the company’s head of LP is trying to sell such a program, part of getting corporate approval will be to provide return-on-investment data to company executives as well as the expected outcomes. In my experience, companies that institute these LP teams see a minimum of 10 to 20 percent reduction in shrink and accident costs per store. The cost of the team can be calculated by combining the time dedicated by each hourly associate and any ancillary costs. These ancillary costs can include items such as the cost of purchasing or developing training tools or of purchasing appreciation gifts to be used in a rewards program.</p><p>Set parameters. Once company executives pledge their support, the head of LP must set parameters for the LP team program so that the teams know what their objectives are. In the grocery sector, for instance, food quality assurance factors are imperative as are direct-to-store delivery procedures, while in specialty retailer stores, teams will focus more on higher-end product exposure.</p><p>The corporate LP department must create team tools, such as audits, checklists, and sample meeting agendas. The head of LP should seek input from other corporate departments, such as operations and training and development, as well as input from selected field leadership and store managers. </p><p>The LP head must also delineate communication avenues, including establishing a corporate contact point for all teams when global issues are identified. This could be a hotline or LP department contact person.</p><p>Some of my retail clients have chosen to implement teams that not only deal with LP but also with safety and risk management issues, including general-liability risk factors and associate safety and accident review. If safety is to be incorporated, all of the team’s activities should be laid out in the same way as LP activities, including a communication link through which issues can be reported at the corporate level. The assistance of corporate safety personnel should also be sought in developing related checklists, forms for problem identification and reporting, and other guidelines.</p><p>All of this information, when completed, should be compiled in a handbook and training guide. Sections should include member composition, meeting structure, team objectives, the communication process, and issue resolution.</p><p>Pick a leader. A store manager or highly motivated assistant manager should be selected to be the LP team’s leader—known as the sponsor. The sponsor’s role is to oversee and direct the team. That includes liaising with higher-ups regarding the team’s performance and findings. This person will also coordinate with other stores in the region on activities and trends.</p><p>Ideally, the person selected will be a top-performing assistant store manager—or someone with loss prevention and safety experience or who shows interest in these areas. This person should receive training from corporate LP on how to oversee the in-store team, how to provide support, how to keep the team on track, and how to accomplish the objectives without devoting more time or resources to these activities than called for in the corporate team directives.</p><p>Team sponsors should have that responsibility added to the key metrics on which they are assessed during their routine employee performance evaluation.</p><p>Corporate and or field LP supervisors in conjunction with the store manager need to pick strong hourly associate leaders for each team. These should be individuals who are respected in the stores, such as a well-regarded department manager or receiver. The rest of the team should be composed of associates selected by store management.</p><p>Depending on the size of each store, the LP team should be no smaller than three and no larger than eight members. I recommend this because above this number the labor expense begins to erode the return-on-investment model. If the retail environment includes a 24-hour work force, be sure to have representation on the team from all shifts.</p><p>To the extent possible, teams should be composed of long-term employees. The institutional knowledge of these associates is what enables an in-store LP team to succeed. Once a team is in place, wholesale changes should be avoided for the first year unless it is necessary due to ineffectiveness. Some new members should be rotated onto the team each year.</p><p>The team should be given something to mark its identity—for example, a special pin, badge, nameplate, or ribbon that makes team members recognizable to customers and other associates. Also, if at all possible, each of the team members should receive a small hourly pay increase for their added LP responsibilities. When members leave the team, a certificate of appreciation for their service or some other gift should mark the occasion. In this way, participation will be taken seriously by the team members and others, and good work will result.</p><p>Additionally, the LP team leader position has been used by several retailers as a management training step. Once an associate has proven his or her leadership capability as head of the team, the company places that person in the regular management training program.</p><p>Time management. The team should meet on a schedule set by the company—either weekly, biweekly, or monthly. When I develop these teams for clients, the team is directed to meet each week for one hour to set objectives and tasks, with one meeting per month dedicated to executing a loss prevention and risk management store audit, looking for issues such as high-end products that are left unsecured or an inoperable emergency door alarm, for instance. Another meeting structure might be a 10-minute meeting followed by 30-minute walk of the store to audit LP and safety issues, then a 15-minute resolution planning session, and a five-minute wrap-up.</p><p>The team sponsor needs to put limits on the time allocated to the LP teamwork—especially when a team is successful; otherwise, dedicated employees may overdo project work and shortchange their regular duties.</p><p>The team sponsor should also make sure that important boundaries are not crossed. For instance, at one store, an aggressive team leader embarrassed the other department managers with the LP team’s audit findings. This negatively affected store morale and caused the team leader to be replaced.</p><p>The team is empowered to identify operational breakdowns and to communicate them to local managers, but it should be done cordially and dispassionately. The team is not there to condemn peers or attempt performance coaching. This should be left to supervisors.</p><p>The team also has no enforcement role. It is most certainly not, nor should it see itself as, a replacement for shoplifting agents. The confrontation and apprehension of shoplifters is dangerous and must be left to authorized and trained staff.</p><p>Empowerment. When an audit turns up a problem, the team must be empowered to have it acknowledged, and they must see results. There is nothing more demoralizing for a team than to spot deficiencies, to follow the correct path to report the issue, and then see nothing happen in response because of a failure to act by authorities at the local store, regional, or corporate level.</p><p>But this isn’t just about team morale. Companies benefit when they act on team findings. When teams use the agreed upon line of communication to the corporation, and it responds, I have seen the correction of errors result in millions of dollars in revenue. At one store, for example, during an audit, the team found that a three-videogame multipack was being sold at the price of an individual game because of improper bar coding by the vendor. The team quickly alerted the company, which issued a recall of the product. In this case, the vendor was required to replace the bar codes on all existing stock and reimburse the retailer its lost revenue.</p><p>Senior management also needs to give the team feedback on what the team sends up the line. This should include acknowledgment of communications, information on when and how specific issues will be addressed, along with proper closure, and periodic commendations of the team for its good work. For example, the team’s success can be included in corporate newsletters and e-mails, or celebrated by regional management.</p><p>During my tenure as a field loss prevention supervisor for Walmart, we ran a district program recognizing the most effective in-store LP/safety team. The program caught the attention of founder Sam Walton, who implemented it companywide, leading to some of the lowest shrink levels the retailer had ever experienced.</p><p>The team should also be allowed to communicate within the store during store meetings, via internal e-mail, or in other ways that information is passed to associates. The team leader should review all communications to make sure they are targeted and clear.</p><p>My experience in the retail field and with clients over many years has proven that in-store LP teams, when properly deployed, are a powerful tool. During both good retail times and bad, effectively trained, managed, and supported teams bolster existing loss and risk prevention business processes, which in turn boosts the bottom line.</p><p>Keith Aubele, CPP, is president and CEO of Retail Loss Prevention Group, Inc., of Bentonville, Arkansas. He has previously been corporate vice president of loss prevention for Home Depot and divisional director of loss prevention for Walmart. He currently serves as the vice chair of the ASIS International Retail Loss Prevention Council.<br></p>GP0|#3795b40d-c591-4b06-959c-9e277b38585e;L0|#03795b40d-c591-4b06-959c-9e277b38585e|Security by Industry;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465